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Mick Miller operates a recording studio out of his two-bedroom apartment in North County. The studio consists of a Mac and a PC, a Pro-Tools software program for digital recording, and a collection of microphones. He says it cost him $10,000 to $12,000 for all the equipment. With such low overhead, he is able to charge bands $25 per hour.

Advertisements for small studio operations have been popping up in the musicians' listings on San Diego's Craigslist website. Rates usually run about $20 to $30 per hour, with some exceptions. Miller claims to have seen a posting that listed a $10-per-hour rate.

Hourly studio rates at established studios have been closer to $50, but a recent glance through the classifieds shows that traditional studios may be cutting rates to stay competitive. King's Ransom, Audioquest, and Hobartrax all advertised hourly rates as low as $30 per hour, while CV Studios charges $20 per hour.

"A lot of my recordings, quality and production-wise, totally hang with the million-dollar studio sound," Miller says. He admits that some of the comforts of a traditional studio are sacrificed; a recent session consisted of a 15-piece children's choir (and all of their parents) crammed into Miller's living room. "I had to kick the parents out onto the porch," Miller says.

As for the potential of home-based studios knocking out their larger rivals, Miller sees this as an unlikely scenario.

"There's a lot more to it than simply going out and buying a Pro-Tools rig and hitting the record button."

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